Recently, I took our church’s teens on our annual amusement park trip—a cornerstone event in all of my youth ministries. I have to admit it though, I do not like amusement parks. Now, I do like aspects of the park, but the reason most people are there is what I do not like. Nothing about roller coasters excites me. I do not like rides that offer a slow incline only to drop participants almost straight down with the encouragement to lift hands in the air while screaming. I do not enjoy corkscrew turns, riding upside down, or rides that take a person to the highest heights just to drop them from those heights in a matter of seconds. How was this ever dubbed as amusement?
Three individuals highly influenced my spiritual growth from 7th-12th grade: Steve Bellavia, Craig Riportella, and Dan Schmidt. These youth pastors did far more than play games or pull pranks. Each one left an indelible mark on who I am today. As NES focuses on aspects of youth ministry, I wanted to share a few lessons I gleaned from these mentors.